The first of the Surprise Lilies (Lycoris squamigera) have popped through the ground in the museum gardens to signal late summer by some definitions --- and more will be coming along a little latter.
But "late summer" is relative. Those unwilling to hurry the seasons stick with the astronomical definition --- summer commences on the June 20-21 solstice and ends on the fall equinox, Sept. 21-22. That makes it more reassuringly only midsummer.
Also called among other things Resurrection Lilies, Magic Lilies and Naked Ladies, these Amaryllis cousins develop lush foliage in the spring which then dies back. Suddenly, about this time of year, flowering stalks shoot through the bare (or overplanted) ground around them and burst into full bloom in a matter of days. It's quite a show.
Surprise Lilies are natives to Asia, imported into the United States during the 1880s, and have been flourishing since.
These lilies are blooming at the top of the terraced embankment down to the patio where zinnias flow into petunias that drop into a pool of marigolds.
Poking around last evening in the heirloom tomato patch, where foliage flourishes but fruit has been slow to ripen, I found deep in the green two good-sized (but half-spoiled) ripe yellowish-orange specimens. Something had chomped into them early in the season and the result was not photogenic.
But they tasted amazing once I brought them home and sliced the spoiled halves away --- mild, very sweet and hardly acidic at all, fruity --- which is what they are.
Wikipedia tells me that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared the tomato to be a vegetable (Nix v. Hedden), but it remains a fruit.
My dad always sprinkled his fresh tomatoes with sugar and on special occasions added milk, hardly the way you'd deal with a carrot or lettuce.
Although this smacks a little of capitalizing on someone else's misfortune, I picked up a steeply discounted Paula Deen "chicken cooker" at Shopko yesterday, where the unfortunate celebrity chef's line of cookware seems to be on the way out.
These pans go by various names but essentially are deep glass-lidded skillets with two small handles rather than one long one. The Deen variety is pretty light-weight, but (at the price) should work just fine.
I'd thought, after my big and quite a bit more exotic lidded skillet began to shed its pitted Teflon coating that I'd get by with cast iron. But there are days when Teflon comes in handy despite its somewhat tarnished reputation --- a little like Paula's.